Tag Archives: Consciousness

What Is Consciousness?

Created April 12, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

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Consciousness is the subjective experience of receiving information. In that sense, it is a verb.

Consciousness is also the “stuff” that has those subjective experiences (qualia). In that sense, it is also a noun.

What do I mean by “receiving information”? I define the information we, the consciousnesses receiving this post, receive, as: what comes in through the five known physical senses, plus the feelings/emotion, intellect, intuition, imagination, memory, subconscious, and whatever else we might have rattling around in there.

It is all information.

Physicist John Wheeler concluded late in his life that the underpinning to the Universe consists of information, which turns into things (“Its”) by following the instructions coded into the information (“Bits”).

In the beginning, there was the Word.

This all becomes simple and self-evident if the first object to exist was a single consciousness.

But wait, what do we mean by the “stuff” of consciousness? Of what stuff is consciousness made?

Are we talking about which specific brain cells consciousness resides in?

No. My theory is that consciousness pre-exists matter. The brain, being matter, interacts with consciousness but is not the original source of consciousness, in my view.

The “stuff” consciousness is made of is immaterial, pure information, data encoded in the formation it is in. For example, a vee formation of birds flying from your left to your right. By its vee formation, it conveys to you the information that birds are capable of understanding coordination with one another on some level. All information is a pattern of dots in one medium or another. The information can be passed along because of the specific formation it is being carried within. In-formation=information.

But passed along to whom? And by whom? And for what purpose? Why is this all happening?

One way it could have happened was that nothingness discovered it could send itself information. And that therefore it never really was nothingness. It was consciousness waiting to discover itself. With nothing happening, there was nothing to observe, except nothingness.

The first official act of nothingness emerging as consciousness was – I postulate – an act of imagination.

Although probably more of a feeling than words at that primordial event, the information passed along to itself was something like “what else could exist as well as all of this boring nothingness?”

Once consciousness learns all of what it can do with imagination, it evolves into US. All of us. Everything, all matter, all energy, all multiverses, all time, all space, all objects sentient by current era human definition and all objects not sentient by current era human definition.

It’s playing a game for the benefit of the information it is passing itself.

Everything exists to serve consciousness.

Yet on this fringe of the Milky Way outpost planet, the prevailing culture denigrates consciousness. It’s been ok for physics, the dominant science, to virtually ignore it for centuries. Skinner deemed it an epiphenomenon, not the decision maker it pretends to be.

Not all manifestations of consciousness have been equally denigrated. The way athletes and performers and artists and writers use their consciousnesses has been given value and appreciation. The intuition, subconscious, feelings/emotions, and especially the sense of spirituality, less so.

Most of us are afraid to act on our hunches until the opportunity is blown.

The universe is set up to receive information from itself, and the value which is its purpose is in the information received.

Along the way, stuff happens. In some backwaters the natives so misunderstand the nature of reality and how to literally make the most out of the opportunity, they live their lives in fear. Sound like anybody you know?

Why science took the road it did, centuries ago, to institutionalize a bias favoring the working hypothesis that the universe is material and accidental, we may never know. Perhaps it’s as simple as leaning away from the sense of there having been a Creator.

And yet one of our top physicists of all time, Albert Einstein, found accidentalism to be counter to his own intuition of a vast intelligence which Created the universe.

At any rate, wouldn’t it have been predictable, 300 years ago, when the materialistic accidentalism movement was only nascent, that if it ever became the unstated global cultural last word in science and philosophy, the human race would by then have become debased of nobility and exist in a hedonistic morally ambiguous state of terror?

What else could we become once brainwashed into believing that science has proven the universe to be an accident in which only the material world matters, consciousness is second class, and those with greater power can do what they want with the rest of us – at any moment, out of the blue.

The social and cultural implications of this side-road science chose hundreds of years ago have been tragic and have left our dominant view of the future to be one of dystopia.

Only by opening our minds to the other possibilities that scientifically exist, some of which suggest that the universe has a self-interest in us, since it is us, can we debias our own minds which have become infected with this pessimistic belief for which no empirical proof exists.

Only by debiasing our own minds to an epistemologically unbiased view of the truth, i.e., we have no idea what is really going on here, can we look around and start to collect unbiased evidence ourselves of whether we sometimes see a benevolence behind the scenes, if we sometimes do have excellent hunches that come true, if we do sometimes read other people’s minds. Once the mind is open to experience reality without rooting for one possible model over another, pragmatism can take control without needing optimism nor pessimism as locked-in requirements.

Life evermore is a possibility if the universe is a single consciousness. That would be experienced by us as still being conscious after bodily death, and having experiences quite unlike Earth, perhaps before adopting another material form on Earth or elsewhere, or an energy form someplace, or being joined directly into the Original Self.

This could be more fun than imagining WWIII or all of the other self-destruction scenarios with nonzero probabilities at the moment. Without the morbid accidentalism locked in, we can let ourselves work toward building utopia. Of course, the crowd will always mock idealists whenever possible, so maintain the pragmatist compass in order to be a proper role model inspiring others.

Tag line:

Let’s stay open to the Good.

Love to all,
Bill

Science, Spirituality, and “Woo-Woo”

Created April 5, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

“Woo-Woo” is defined as “unconventional beliefs regarded as having little or no scientific basis, especially those relating to spirituality, mysticism, or alternative medicine.”

I’m grateful that there is not yet a derogatory term for “theories of universe grounded in science which are not in conflict with spirituality”.

As you may know, my books do not assert the existence of God, but point out that we could all be part of a single consciousness, a consciousness which could have the qualities we as a species have generally intuited for God – omnipresence, omnipotence, and benevolence.

My main emphasis in these books is that we should keep an open mind, and in our decisions and actions take into account the possibility that this is the truth—that we should be empirically scientific toward our own experiences, and objectively observe if the one-consciousness lens is useful in understanding what goes on in our lives.

Rather than filtering out our hunches and inspirations, our blatant experiences of telepathy and empathy (understanding, emotional telepathy), and our spiritual intuitions. EOP, Emergency Oversimplification Procedure, is the instantaneous dichotomistic bucketing of everything into good vs. bad based on accumulated imitative conditioning, without giving any fresh thought to any matter.

As a species we have been driven into the EOP condition by a combination of Acceleritis, accelerating information overload, plus the dominant unsupported assumption of Western science since circa 1800 that the material world is all that exists and that it came about by accident.

In that science thus constrained, the importance of consciousness has been generally belittled.

Stellar exceptions: William James, Jung, Einstein, Wheeler, and Hawking — who in his last book held up Wheeler’s Participatory Anthropic Principle as part of Hawking’s own worldview. By the implications of their thinking, these renowned scientists all opened the door to the possibility of a universe which is a consciousness. None of them, however, took it that far.

Einstein, like Thales and Spinoza, had spiritual feelings aimed at the universe and at the intelligence which had created it. By bringing the observer into his thought experiments, Einstein snuck consciousness back into science’s picture of reality, thus discovering relativity.

These great thinkers were resuscitating animism, originally emerging as the first natural religion, essentially the feeling that the Creator is in everything. The native Americans shared these same spiritual feelings.

Animism never went on to become a formalized religion, that was pantheism, its next stage of evolution toward today’s dominant monism – which within Hinduism still contains a pantheistic pantheon as masks of the One, as established by the Upanishads.

Neither Spinoza nor Einstein saw any conflict between their animism and Judaism. This is key. What it says is that not only is it possible that we are part of a field of consciousness which invented matter-energy-spacetime, it also says that there is no distance between that and the beliefs and values of the world’s religions, that it is all internally consistent, integrity exists, science is its mental emanation, spirituality is its emotional emanation.

Will we then all become more positive about life and about each other? It would be natural, once we get out of the habit of implicitly putting down all spirituality because of some Woo-Woo extremists.

But Thales, Spinoza, Einstein, and many other people have experienced that moment, that rush, of spiritual realization, when one suddenly gets it— that there could be a scientific God.

We might not be limited to this world, this one lifetime.

One suddenly has a sense of cosmic resonance, of the importance of being.

We know that consciousness exists. We know that with much more certainty than we know that matter exists since we experience matter through our senses, which are part of our consciousness.

So it would be illogical to deny the possibility of a much larger consciousness.

Woo-Woo is another form of EOP. Oversimplification. It is not necessarily something that happens to people as a result of their own spiritual realizations, it might have been transmitted to them by friends and associates and/or by social media or books they’ve read.

Because Woo-Woo is essentially authoritarian and faith-based, it is a belief system and does not rely upon scientific support. It tends to be open-ended i.e. pretty much anything goes.

Back in the 70s when psychedelics first reached a mass audience, both spiritual realizations and Woo-Woo began to spread through the world culture. Two parallel and related processes.

Today there are about a thousand times more books published per year about Woo-Woo than in the 70s. They are almost all well-intended. A few are cryptopolitical propaganda. The field does much more good than harm, in my estimation.

Getting people to be less negative is a good thing. It would be better to do that with less exaggeration and fewer black-and-white generalizations. But game theory proves that optimism is more utilitarian than pessimism. Yes, Woo-Woo goes too far, but I wouldn’t waste time putting people down. Better to help Woo-Woo folks metacognize, recognize, and master their own egos, reopen their minds to all possibilities, and move up into the Observer and Flow states, and out of Woo-Woo followership.

Mixing Woo-Woo with politics is a sure sign that it is the most naïve, imitative form of Woo-Woo. Spirituality is above politics. If we are all one thing, factions are a mental illness.

Takeaway:

Don’t believe anything except your own experience, be observant and keep an open mind, test and learn, see if this one-consciousness lens is useful to you, realize Oneness as an ever-constant possibility.

My Best to all,
Bill

 

Quote images from Quotefancy.com

Perspective

Created March 8, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Perspective is very helpful in dealing with the present historic moment…These are the times that test what we’ve got. Each of us…
It’s time to be that best version of yourself.
Let the highest part of you come out now. This is The Moment.

My friend arrived and put down his bag and took off his scarf and coat and sat on the banquette seat I’d saved for him. I asked him in a cheery voice how he was, expecting his usual enthusiastic answer, and he made ambiguous body language.

“How are you feeling?” I asked, still upbeat.

“Overwhelmed,” he admitted.

“By…”

“By the cold, all the news, and age!” he specified.

I contemplated his answer. “I’m with you on all of that.”

“I was just reading The New York Times, and every story is bad news. I used to be able to find one or two ‘good news’ stories in every issue.”

“I’ve been advising cutting down on the news and all other media that brings you down.” He nodded in violent agreement. We ordered lunch.

“How do you deal with those things?” he asked.

“You know, my take on the universe is that we are all one unkillable consciousness. That on Earth you and I are part of a free will experiment the conscious intelligent universe is doing. It is that Intelligence which looks out our eyes as us.” He nodded, chewing, having heard this from me before, in other language.

“I feel certain that the test we are undergoing will teach us wisdom of immense value. I write to help bring an end to suffering. I feel great sadness for those suffering, but I can’t let that affect my effectiveness on their behalf.”

He knew me from a long way back and knew that was what I say whenever there’s an opening. Never the exact same words, but always the same idea we are One Consciousness. He also knows that is my best guess as to what is really going on and that I live my life within this picture of reality.

If I’m wrong, then so is Einstein; neither of us believe that this complexity has all put itself together completely by accidental collisions, without the inescapable logical necessity of prior Intelligence.

We ourselves are a micro model of the Conscious Intelligent Universe – we are a consciousness so we know intimately what such a thing is.

And we know therefore that it is possible for there to be a consciousness.

Therefore it is totally illogical to state that a much larger version of the same thing “cannot possibly exist.”

My view of reality has an equal chance of being either true or false.

The same is true of any other view of reality now on the table.

Until your next death, when you gain important evidence, or simply cease to be able to experience knowing. Maybe then you’ll find out my “guess” or “prophecy” was right or not.

In any case, the real question is how to deal with the frightening omens and general sense of alarm. How to remain on a positive course, and learn from the challenges now appearing.

Stoic philosophers were the first to write down their ideas for dealing with horrific circumstances, and the Spartans largely demonstrated stoicism in action, except when they didn’t. At least they proved that it is humanly possible to zoom back far enough out of oneself to grok the universe is going to do stuff and we are supposed to rise to the occasion and to control our inner reaction to whatever befalls us externally.

Epictetus didn’t link his exhortations to any cosmological theory, he relied upon common sense. He implied that who knows what the universe really is, what we know is that we undergo severe trials here in reality and we need to understand the best way to deal with them. We can choose to take a different emotional reaction to our favorite cup being broken. It works with practice, will does develop.

Perspective is very helpful to me in dealing with the present historic moment.

This is as big as WWII. Even if we avert war but remain at battle stations for the rest of our lives.

Or, we come out of this into a reasonable facsimile of utopia.

These are the times that test what we’ve got. Each of us.

This is the cold water in the face wakeup call that God – the Conscious Intelligent Universe – is watching, and it’s time to be that best version of yourself. Let the highest part of you come out now. This is The Moment.

Love to all,
Bill

Mind Discipline

Created March 1, 2024
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.

Intellectual knowing is not the same as embodying
that knowledge in one’s actions.

Today there is fortunately an outpouring of articles and books on the subjects which a half century ago were rarely discussed outside of the kinds of books which were carried only by so-called metaphysical bookstores back then.

People with vast curiosity tend to study a wide spectrum of subjects. That describes me starting around age 4 when I fell in love with reading and writing. That also describes many people I know who have read many of the same esoteric books that I have, and some who have learned many things from the same writers. And many people whose reading has been far more inclusive than mine.

In conversations, I have noted that some of my great friends can quote wisdom but often are unaware that their actions do not conform to the bits of wisdom which they quote.

In some cases, this can be analyzed as intellectual versus emotional learning. The rational mind can be aware of important principles of how to live the good life, and yet on an emotional level, they are leaning away from those principles even as they espouse them.

Take a simple example: “There is no use crying over spilt milk.” Like all aphorisms, we tend to underestimate the amount of wisdom this aphorism contains. This is because familiarity breeds contempt. I know at least one person who can teach this to others but always lets disappointing news disturb her.

I know a man who has studied vast amounts of wisdom literature and understands all of it fully, yet his attitudes override the levels of tolerance which all wisdom literature teaches.

I know another man who is a walking encyclopedia of the history of applied psychology who does not pick up on his audience’s reactions.

Clearly there is a gap in the mind between knowing something and believing it to be true and valuable, yet not being able to “carry it off” in reality.

This gap is where discipline needs to be applied.

The reason that self-discipline is needed is that our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life is practiced with a mix of automatic and “manually overridden” (conscious, on-purpose, granularly formed) responses to external events.

Because we are used to that mix and never think much about it, we tend to overlook automatic responses which slip through despite the fact that they disagree with principles we espouse. Besides, “who has the time?” The Acceleritis culture is driving us all at top speed by giving us too many stimuli at practically all times. In moments when all media are turned off, we are not really escaping because that’s when the backed-up cognitive load dumps into our consciousness with unanswered questions and unassimilated half-learning, stuff we noticed but didn’t have time to think about why we noticed it, what it was saying to us that stuck so much in our minds.

My old friend Daniel Goleman has written many books about emotional intelligence, a phrase he coined long ago to describe the quality of a consciousness to integrate intellectual learning with emotional signals from inside and outside, and to perfect one’s actions taken, illuminated by this higher order of inner integrity.

Today I wish to emphasize another aspect of gaining emotional intelligence: self-discipline. Mental and emotional, intuitive and perceptual self-discipline.

The logical way to approach this topic is to start with the desired end state. First one ought to discern the ultimate goal of one’s own life, what you are here to do. The way the game is set up—this is not easy—and many people give up and let their game piece be pushed around by external forces. This is the first important place to apply mental and emotional, intuitive and perceptual self-discipline. You have to make the time to select the dream vision you wish to make come true over the course of your life. What your gift to the world shall be, your body of work you will leave behind to benefit posterity.

A guess is better than not having a targeted end state.

Discipline then has to be applied that respects yourself, you have set a goal, now you have to make it come true, you have to believe in it, you can’t be wishy-washy about it, that is a denial of self-respect.

You can’t allow yourself to waste time. To waste time is to waste your life. Time is a precious limited quantity. You must make best use of each second. Otherwise, you are admitting to yourself that you are not really laser-focused on your mission, you are programming yourself for failure to achieve your mission, you obviously do not take yourself seriously.

That’s why you can’t allow yourself to cry over split milk. Because not only is it a waste of time, it negatively programs you and the others around you. You are causing negative effects, and harming yourself and your mission, by giving in to the automatic reaction of the amygdala. This takes enormous self-discipline which can be gained by practice, and by never taking your eye off your mission.

At the same time, you can’t rush past noticing the cascade effects inside yourself, you must pay the time and attention to see your own automatic reactions that slipped through and screwed something up, so you can figure out what clues to look for next time, so you stop that particular automatic reaction from slipping through again.

One exercise is clearing the mind of all emotions. Any psychologist will tell you that emotions are the physical body manifestations that are connected with the inner feelings you have – so as you discipline away all the emotional clutter you have just been experiencing, it will happen in your body as well as in your mind – it will change your breathing, your heart rate, skin moisture, pupil aperture, and many other things. But you start with an inner act of will to cancel all inner events and return to a state of complete neutrality and emptiness. Starting over. Rebooting. I find that for me this is most effective when I walk into our meditation room, get down on the floor, breathe deeply, empty whatever is in me, and start my life over with a blank slate.

I hope you will refocus on your own mission and try this rebooting exercise whenever needed, and let me know how it goes.

Love to all,
Bill